Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazing
In our third post, we'll look at the Border Crossing series, plus a personal story the author has chosen to share. There's also a chance to win one of her books!
First up, Bombs and Guacamole
ER doctor Dusty Lowry grew up in a conservative rural Texas family that has never quite forgiven him for staying in New Mexico after his stint in the Army. Paramedic Nate Miller, Dusty’s best friend since their early Army days, has a hippie momma, a tiny apartment, and is in lust with his buddy. When their other Army friend, Kyle, gets married, they start thinking about settling down. In fact, they both know what they want: each other. Too bad they’ve never shared that goofy little fact.
A trip to visit Dusty’s family in Texas changes everything, and Dusty and Nate aren’t sure where to go from there. Good thing they’re smart guys, and between a series of bombings that target first responders, their friend Kyle’s wife getting pregnant, and more than one bowl of guacamole, they begin to figure out how to have a relationship.
But as the bombings get closer to home, Nate and Dusty must navigate love and commitment before they lose their chance.
A rooster crowed somewhere nearby, which meant it was time to get up. It also meant there was either another illegal cockfighting operation springing up in downtown Las Cruces, or that Dusty was home in East Texas. He knew it was inhumane, but right now he was really hoping for gallos duking it out.
He cracked an eye open—faded quilt wrapped around him and a box just across the way labeled “Momma’s Afghans.”
He cracked an eye open—faded quilt wrapped around him and a box just across the way labeled “Momma’s Afghans.”
East Texas it was. At least he was warm and comfy, his back pressed up against something really hot and solid. Something that was breathing on the back of his neck. Now he knew his people had some dogs big enough to spoon with, but they didn’t have gorillas or anything this big, so that meant Nate was there. Snuggling.
Dusty closed his eyes, so tempted to just stay there, but that wasn’t fair. Nate would no doubt be mortified if he woke up all close and personal with Dusty’s ass. The guy really did need to find a nice girl and settle down if he needed physical touch this much, though. Right?
He took a deep breath before easing out of Nate’s range, slipping out of the bed to head for the bathroom. Dusty was used to sleeping two, maybe three hours. Nate required at least six.
After he peed, he padded down to the kitchen, smelling coffee and some kind of baked goods. That alone would be worth the price of him coming home for the big party. His mom’s cooking made him happy, deep down.
There she stood in front of the stove too, pulling on oven mitts.
“Am I just in time, and do you need me to make bacon?”
“Dustin.” She smiled at him over her shoulder. “Hi, baby boy. I need to get these out, and then you can start frying bacon.”
“It’s better for you if you bake it, Momma. Less fat.”
“Bah.” She pulled out the muffins, her robe the same old chintz that she always wore, familiar as a Norman Rockwell painting. “I like it fried. That way I can reuse the grease.”
He chuckled. “Yeah. I thought y’all were gonna go on a cruise.”
“Oh, your daddy chickened out.” She straightened before turning to face him, her blue eyes proving where he’d gotten his. “He was worried about the flu, or his cows, or blah-blah. You know him.”
“I do.” Like the back of his hand.
“So, who came with you? Austin said you were bringing an Army friend.”
He was not gonna roll his eyes. Not, notty-not. He knew the “when are you bringing us a girl” would start before he even had breakfast. “I did. I’m not dating, just working, and Nate needed to get out of town for a few days. He works too hard.”
“Is he a doctor too? I thought he was an EMT or something.”
“He’s a paramedic. Damned good one.”
She stared at him, hands on her hips. “Don’t cuss at me.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Dusty sighed. “Sorry, Momma. I’m so tired, and I don’t want to have to defend my choices right now.”
Her gaze softened, sympathy in her eyes. “Is that what you feel like we need? We just worry about you.”
“So why does every conversation come back to who I’m dating?”
“Grandbabies,” she said without a pause. “For mothers, it’s always about grandbabies. I would be an exceptional granny.”
“Talk to Austin. He’s at the right age.”
“You’re a cruel son.” She came to him and put a hand on his arm, though, belying the words. “I love you no matter what, Son. I can’t help but hope.”
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Book 2 in the series, Ammo and Enchiladas, coming in June 2019
After a night at the movies in Albuquerque, NM, Brantley’s best friend, Matt, is shot right in front him during a robbery. Stunned and devastated, Brant tries to help Matt’s husband, Travis, deal with the funeral details even as he struggles with his own grief and Travis’s blame. When Travis’s best friend arrives, Brant is both annoyed and grateful, because he is so darn tired and can use the help.
Lex Espana is ashamed to admit he hasn’t seen his childhood best friend since Travis’s wedding. He’s even more amazed that he barely remembers Brant from that wedding, because he’s sure interested now. While it’s weird to fall for someone at a funeral, his feelings for Brant are real and make him long for a life he didn’t realize he was missing.
Neither Lex nor Brant knows how to be part of an us, though, and they both have a lot to work through before they can settle in. To become a real couple, Brant and Lex will have to dig deep to get past the roadblocks in their relationship.
Brantley sat staring at his hands. His fingernails were filthy.
He’d cleaned his hands up, but he’d missed his nails. You’d think after all the years of scrubbing he’d never miss his nails.
“Can I get you anything, sir? Coffee? Anything?” The cop’s voice was sympathetic, soft, like he was fixin’ to shatter into a thousand pieces, which he reckoned he was.
Brant stared up at the detective, his vision swimming. “I…. Coffee? Please?”
“You got it. We got a K-cup thing. Coffee has been better around here.” The detective moved away, and Brant wasn’t sure he could remember how to breathe.
Matty. What the actual fuck? It had happened so fucking fast. The guy hadn’t even given Matt a chance to give over his wallet, his keys, anything, before the motherfucker shot. The asshole panicked and ran then, or Brant had a feeling he would be dead too. Christ, how was he gonna tell Travis?
Had someone already told Travis? He closed his eyes, nausea rising up. His nails had Matt’s blood under them.
As soon as the asshole had taken off, he’d been there, trying to do triage, but the shot had gone right into Matty’s temple. It was over before it had begun.
He hiccupped, and the cop handed him a paper cup.
“We’ll be getting you home soon. We appreciate your patience.”
“Just to sign some paperwork, but that takes time to print out and get approved. I’m so sorry. I know it’s been a long night.”
“The longest of my life so far,” he agreed. The coffee wasn’t bad. Better than doctor’s-office coffee.
“I can only imagine. You have my condolences.”
“Thanks. I guess you see a lot of people on the longest night of their lives.” He understood hard jobs; he dealt with the parents of sick kids.
“Eee-a-la, you know it. Some nights this job is all bad, huh?”
“Some nights. Tonight.” He’d lost his oldest and best friend all in the matter of the same second.
“Here you go, Sarge.” A uniformed officer brought in a clipboard loaded up with papers.
“Okay. I’m going to need your signature on the statement; that’s all. Then we’ll have an officer take you home.”
“Thank you.” He signed the papers, initialed all the things, and then handed back the pen. “Can they take me to my friend’s house? His—his spouse is alone.”
“Of course, but…. Sir. You might want to go home and change first.”
“I—” He looked down at himself and almost threw up. “Oh God. Okay, yeah. Home. I can drive over.”
“Yeah. Yeah, just give those back?” The papers were grabbed back, and then he was taken outside and plopped into a police cruiser. What were they going to do with Matt’s car?
He guessed someone would tell Travis. He guessed. Christ.
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A personal story:
Hey, I’m BA, and I’m going to start at the beginning. Seriously.
You see, when I was growing up, there were no lesbians.
None. Zero. Nada.
The thing is, I am a redneck from the back end of east Texas and I grew up in the 1980s. Lesbians didn’t exist. I didn’t even know they were a possibility. Gay men? Oddly enough, yes. My best friend’s brother was a drag queen in Dallas. My uncle Mark and his lover lived in Austin. One of my gay friends in high school was beaten to death at the fair grounds by a pack of rabid cowboys.
But women who loved women? Not even a bit.
Looking back at my teenaged world, I can tell you I was in love with a girl then. She was in love with me, but we each had a boyfriend. We each shared boyfriends. She dated gay boys, I dated bad boys that weren’t into commitment, and it all worked out.
Well, except where it didn’t.
I was married to a guy from a Good Family when I was seventeen and a senior in high school so that I could be emancipated. It wasn’t a grand love affair – it was a business deal. It pissed off both sets of parents. I put out, he let me live on my own, and it was supposed to last until I was eighteen and legal. Then he was going in the service to collect his marriage benefits, I was going to go to college with the woman I was in love with, and we’d divorce in a few years. No big deal.
After all, he told me he knew I was a lesbian – and you know what, he was right! – and that I just needed a beard so that I wasn’t hauled to a mental ward (remember, this was the 80s – getting caught sleeping with your best friend could land a minor in family court).
This is where the cautionary tale of birth control pills and antibiotics comes into play. Thanksgiving weekend I got an ear infection. The Valentine’s Day after my 18th birthday I found out I was pregnant.
From that point on, my life belonged to someone else.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my kid. The nineteen years of abuse, fear, violence and isolation I suffered because I was a lesbian that didn’t want to lose her baby? That I could totally have done without.
This is where I sing the song of the internet.
I needed my degree. I needed a job so that he didn’t have to work. My daddy bought me my own computer. Suddenly, it was impossible to isolate me.
First I met my best friend, Sean Michael, then she introduced me to the love of my life, my wife, Julia.
This woman, y’all, she started out so gently. Messages on Livejournal turned into comments on fanfiction. Comments on fanfiction turned into encouragement on original fiction. Writing encouragement turned into hours of chatting about writing.
Then chatting about writing became the first m/m publishing company.
I have beta read every book she’s ever written. She’s the one who reminds me that I don’t suck when I start to believe the haters. Together we built a world that we could live in together, one where the husband couldn’t separate us because that was supporting him.
How did I know I was in love with her?
Sean Michael, Julia and I were writing a threesome – two werewolves and an air conditioning repairmen – and I swear to God, y’all, the two guys Julia and I were writing were going to rip this little Sean Michael twink into teeny tiny little pieces. I was watching this happen and suddenly I private messaged her with “I think they’re going to eat him.”
Her answer was, “God yes. YES!”
And I was in love.
Not just business partners. Not just cowriters.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was true. I knew she understood the fangs and teeth that was my brain and that she got me. She knew me.
I went to Colorado to see her and I wanted to stay, but I had a young teenager and a dying stepmother and I couldn’t. So she nodded, let me fly home, and then started the process. Eight months later she moved to Texas for me.
She moved in and willingly, voluntarily lived in the private hell that had been my life, slowly helping and supporting me so that, when the time came and he was out of the country for a short time, I could run with her. This time, when she asked, I said yes.
We moved in twenty four hours. We got a huge security system, black out curtains, and a gun. We called the police and told them if someone attacked us, he did it.
When the texts and phone calls started – to the tune of 3000 a day – we changed our phone numbers, our emails, and we hunkered down and wrote romance.
She was there for every step of the ugliest divorce I’d ever seen. She was there holding my hand for every single bit of mourning and shame and acceptance.
The day I asked her to marry me was the second finest moment of my life.
She risked violence. She risked her life. She risked her business and her career and everything.
I mean, seriously, y’all. Who does that?
Who means someone online and decides to destroy her perfectly ordered, reasonable, easy life for a middle aged mom in her own private hell?
My girl, that’s who.
Together we have moved to the mountains. We’ve survived the death of two of my step-parents, the death of her parents. She’s become the stepmother to a kid with cancer. She’s the wife of a woman with a terminal illness. She’s moved my mom out of a terrible situation to live close. We’ve raised dogs, strawberries, and roses. We’ve gone to Spain, to Italy, to Mexico and England and all over the United States. We’ve made friends, we’ve lost friends, and we’ve moved from building a business together to building our writing careers together. We have spent approximately 21 days apart in the last two years (and those are all me being in the hospital). We work together, we play together, we live together. We’ve bought houses, we’ve gotten married, and we’ve built this amazing life.
Julia tells me that she waited for me for thirty years and that, once she knew that I loved her too, she was never going to let me go.
I promised her – more than ten years ago – that one day I would sing “The Cowboy In Me” to her at our wedding. I did.
When the line, “Girl, there’s never been a line you’ve drawn I haven’t crossed”, came along, the preacher hooted and said, “Yes! That’s y’all all over!”
She’s my everything and I’m so proud to be her wife. Our fifth anniversary is the 15th of June, right in the middle of pride month, and we’re living proof that happy endings do come true and, if you’re very lucky, love wins.
Much love, y’all.
About the author:
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.
Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.
Thanks for celebrating this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of BA Tortuga's books, our author interview, and one more chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!